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How to Avoid Sending Spammy Email

Email Etiquette means making sure your emails are not mistaken for spam.

We all hate spam and get way too much of it, agreed? That is why it is essential to realize that if your email is “spammy,” you risk your email not getting through to the intended party. And not read.

Two factors are at play here. First, sending an email with red flags that trip spam filters and not reviewing Spam/Junk/Trash before emptying them. Next, not paying attention to details.

Bounce-backs Tell You Why

Have you had your emails bounce back? Most automatically assume their email server is not operating correctly or that “something is broken.”

But, surprisingly, their emails are being blocked because their emails are spammy. Always review those bounce-back messages as they state the reason for being returned.

To avoid your emails from being incorrectly identified as spam, you need to be aware of a couple of things. From my experience, legitimate email makes it into my Spam/Junk/Trash every day due to the sender doing or not doing certain things that trigger spam filters.

Then again, emails I am expecting or emails that I send are mistaken for spam or junk for no apparent reason. At least that I can determine. I’m not doing anything different, and I’m sending to contacts I communicate with regularly. That is why it is important to always check your Spam/Junk/Trash folders before deleting them.

ISPs, networks, and spam filters have a constantly evolving list of criteria used to judge email “spam scores” to determine what email gets through or not. High spam score; your email bounces back, is rejected or in some cases even deleted.

Don’t Be Spammy Checklist

Here is a simple checklist that you can use to help your emails not be mistakenly marked as spam. Or worse, deleted because they land in a spam folder before they are read. Follow these guidelines to give your email the best chance to make it to its intended party.

  • Always include an appropriate, short, and accurate SUBJECT field. Unfortunately, many times spam does not have a SUBJECT or it is malformed without proper text. In addition, some email programs auto delete subjectless emails to Junk/Trash.
  • Type your subject with appropriate capitalization and structure. For example, all lower case or all caps gives the impression of being spam. Not only by filters but as viewed by recipients.
  • Refrain from using common terms abused by spammers in your subject and the first paragraph of your email. You know what they are – you see them every day. Many spam filters track these terms and may inadvertently send your email right to your Spam folder.
  • Check that your name is formally displayed in the FROM field. Example: Jane A. Doe is correct. All lower case or lack of punctuation here indicates the anemic online savvy typical of spammers and that your email could be spam.
  • Refrain from using any formatting just for the sake of doing so. For example, formatting text into fancy fonts, colors, or bolding can trigger spam filters when combined with other red flags.
  • When using any spam software or filtering system, before you purge your Trash, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick peek to see if any email from folks you know or recognize were identified as spammy. Then, when that happens, add them to your approved senders or whitelist to prevent future problems.

Spam, Junk, Trash

What’s the difference between your Spam, Junk, or Trash folders? Depends on your software. I use PostBox (I can’t live without it) and have all three. Trash is for emails that I delete. Junk is for the emails PostBox identifies as spam. Spam is the folder my email provider specifies as spam.

I always check my Spam and Junk folders for emails that are incorrectly marked as spam or junk. PostBox allows me to mark it as “not junk” so that doesn’t happen again.

The takeaway? Don’t be spammy.

Besides all the filtering going on, users delete emails they don’t recognize all the time. I know I do it. They take a glance and hit delete because the email appears to be spam. Don’t let that happen to your emails.

One last tip. If you have a clue that your emails are increasingly being marked as spam, you can check for any potential issues with your domain here.

Keeping the above issues in mind increases the chances of your day-to-day communications getting to the intended person on the other side.

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